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Grief, Like a Facebook Page, Cannot be Easily Deleted

August 1, 2012

Ryan Thogmartin is the CEO of DISRUPT Media | Follower of Christ | Husband | Father | Entrepreneur | Host of #DISRUPTu! and #FUNERALnationtv | Lover of Skittles DISRUPT Media is a social media content agency that focuses on storytelling for funeral companies. We use real stories to build creative strategies that achieve actual business goals.

Grief, Like a Facebook Page, Cannot be Easily Deleted

Article from the Digital Morning with Katie Couric

This has been a hot topic on for a few months and is now hitting the mainstream. Social media plays a huge part in the way people grieve.

In the digital age we text and tweet every thought and emotion, every LOL and OMG can become TMI, but it seems much more natural now that social media is second nature.

That said, is an expression of sympathy or announcement of the death of a loved one via email or Facebook appropriate?

Bruce Feiler, bestselling author and New York Times columnist is helping us navigate the murky waters of mourning in the digital era. There are some dos and don’ts when it comes to grieving online. First, email can actually be a convenient tool to inform friends and relatives of an illness or death.  Bruce suggested appointing a friend or family member to disseminate information and field phone calls, to make it easier on the mourners or sick loved one.

But when it comes to expressing sympathy, Bruce says the old-fashioned way is best: A handwritten note or a phone call—not a text—shows you care.

The web can serve as an excellent place for a digital memorial or information spot. Sites like CarePages and CaringBridge allow you to set up a page for either a sick or deceased loved one to share updates, funeral information, or just memories about the person. Obituary sites like can be places to return to over and over again and read about your loved one and post comments. Even Facebook can be a place to grieve.  If you present them an obituary, they will turn the deceased’s page into a memorial site. Bruce says wall posts, however, are not a good use of Facebook when it comes to a death. Send a private message, if not a phone call.

And, as I have learned from experience, the things that matter most are the personal touches, the people who stop by with meals for your family or offer to run errands for you or babysit your children while you get things done.  And don’t forget to follow up a few weeks, or even months, later, and check in on the person who suffered a loss.

Grief, like a Facebook page, cannot be easily deleted.

If the video below doesn’t load you can watch it here:


Watch this video interview with Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg as she talks about her experience and shock with how the obituary is received on Facebook: